If you’re a movie-lover, Winter is probably your favorite season. While you might enjoy an occasional Marvel movie, you live for the winter months when Hollywood transitions out of Summer Blockbuster season into Oscar Season.
Oscar Season is that magical time of year (late Fall through early Winter) when all of the movies hoping to win an Academy Award are released.
The pinnacle of Oscar Season is the Academy Awards, themselves. But to make the most out of the Awards and Oscar Season, you and I are going to have to do some (very enjoyable) work.
Without further ado, here is your guide to getting the most out of Oscar Season.
(But first, a little background.)
What is The Academy?
Are the Academy Awards like the federal government? Are all of the most important decisions about filmmaking merit made by a few privileged white dudes?
No. This isn’t the Golden Globes.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) or “The Academy” is the professional organization behind the Academy Awards. There are approximately 6,000 members, divided into 17 branches; each branch corresponds to a different aspect of the filmmaking process (actors, writers, directors, editors, visual effects, costume designers, etc.).
Members are added to the Academy by invitation only. Invitations are extended by The Board of Governors. The Board consists of three governors from each branch, as well as a few executive officers. Tom Hanks is there, so we can rest assured there isn’t any funny business.
While the complete membership roster of the Academy is shrouded in mystery, the process is actually pretty straightforward. If you’ve ever wondered how to join the Academy, here’s a basic summary:
And now that you’ve lost all hope of joining The Academy, here’s how you can salvage the rest of your Oscar Season.
Tip #1: Watch all of the nominees for Best Picture
If you want to enjoy Oscar Season, you have to actually watch the movies. Duh.
But while this is a simple tip, execution can be a little difficult. This year there are nine nominees for Best Picture. That’s a lot of movies! And most of them aren’t available to rent on Redbox until after The Awards. You’ll have to see most of them in theaters or rent them on Amazon.
So to cut away some of the social and financial burden of watching so many movies, I recommend two things:
Watch Parties – For the few movies that are available to rent, invite your friends over and throw an Oscar Nominee Watch Party. Unlike most summer blockbusters, Oscar nominees tend to produce loads of conversation and are very thought-provoking. Having a few friends to discuss the movie afterward only enhances the experience.
Early-Bird Specials and Matinees – You’re going to have to watch the majority of these movies in theaters if you want to see them before the Awards. Luckily, most theaters have matinees and early-bird discounts if you go to an early showing. I frequently go to a 9:30 showing for $5 on Saturday mornings. Plus, it’s easy to invite people because who does stuff on Saturday morning?
Tip #2: Vote
“Everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinion.”
I love opinions. I love debating. I love hearing (the good kind of) arguments. Oscar Season provides me with that opportunity every year.
And nothing fosters hearty debate more than the casting of a vote. Voting forces people to weigh the evidence and turn un-evaluated impressions into concrete opinions and convictions.
There are many ways one can “vote” on the Academy Awards. First, you could just be a part of the Academy. Second, you could make it a competition to see which of your friends/family can correctly guess the winners.
My preferred way, though, is to host your own awards ceremony. If you have a movie-loving group of friends, ask them all to cast their vote for each category. Tally up the votes, and on the night of the Oscars announce your own winners for Best Picture, Best Actress, etc.
To save you a little time and energy, I made you this printout to cast your ballot with friends.
———>Oscar Ballot 2017<———
Tip #3: Party
“Ain’t no party like a Scranton party, cuz a Scranton party don’t stop.”
In life, there aren’t that many opportunities to get dressed up, eat hors d’oeuvres, and have artsy-fartsy conversations about cinema.
But you can make those opportunities happen by throwing an Oscar Party and watching the Academy Awards with friends. Bust out the formal attire, brush up on your cocktail-making skills, and surround yourself with people who have never seen the newest Transformers movie.
This year (2017), The Academy Awards air February 26 at 7e|4p on ABC.
Final Warning: Avoid Confirmation Bias
“[Confirmation bias is] the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions. In addition, individuals may discredit information that does not support their views.”
I like the idea that human beings are super-rational creatures. But that’s just not my personal experience. I am fickle and stubborn. I have never been impartial or unbiased. I am uncomfortable with any sort of cognitive dissonance. My immediate response to contradictory evidence is explain it away with my not-so-nuanced theories about everything, rather than reform my pre-existing opinions about how the world works.
And that’s just basic psychology. Humans are capable of rationality, but we are not rational creatures by default. We are riddled with a laundry list of cognitive biases.
So use this Oscar Season to practice a little rationality. You’ll be forming a lot of opinions based mostly on initial impressions. Try to change your opinion. Make yourself persuadable. Pay attention to your tendency to only notice evidence that confirms your pre-existing opinions (AKA: confirmation bias).
We can’t get rid of our cognitive biases, but we can learn to live with them. Or we can just think we’re right all of the time. (Which is technically a lot easier.)
Happy Oscar Season!